It’s that time of year. Do I wear green? Yes. It’s necessary. Do I fill out a bracket? Of course. There is almost no choice.
It’s time for my crazy downstairs neighbor to provide the heat. My furnace is off.
Yes, I am a cheapskate.
It’s that time of year. Do I wear green? Yes. It’s necessary. Do I fill out a bracket? Of course. There is almost no choice.
It’s time for my crazy downstairs neighbor to provide the heat. My furnace is off.
Yes, I am a cheapskate.
Tuesday night I experienced a first, something that took me longer to experience than it probably should have. After all, I travel often enough. Maybe I have been more lucky than most when it comes to travel. Who knows, all I know is that what happened is my first time.
My flight home was cancelled due to weather. Chicago was having a snow storm, a minor one, but other parts of America were experiencing storms, so I imagine that my plane couldn’t make it to Atlanta. The thing is, I needed to spend more time with my customer, was pretty sure that I wouldn’t make it back to the airport for my flight. The flight was delayed as I checked my text messages, then cancelled. I was stuck in the customer’s factory, an error in their wiring causing a delay in the configuration service that I was providing, so I needed more time to complete my tasks. Rather than get annoyed at the cancellation, I was happy that my customer wouldn’t have to pay the charges to change my flight.
Funny, when I pray, I don’t always expect a real answer. I had prayed. I wanted this visit to this specific customer to be successful. God answered my prayer in a very specific way.
I stayed an extra night. I came back the next morning, made a few tweaks to each of the transmitters that I had configured the past few days, improved performance to within a quarter inch accuracy on every transmitter installed and configured. Adding lemonade.another day gave me more time with a customer who has the potential for a ton more business, including training engineers who have influence on plants around the USA.
Dang, I feel good about myself! I feel good about what happened.
Oh and I got to drive the Cadillac that I had been upgraded to for another day.
Lemonade, children, lemonade.
Last week I took advantage of the warmer weather, pulled my bicycle off of the trainer in my spare bedroom, took it down to my garage. The weather was comfortable, with more comfortable weather forecast for the weekend. While it was dark by the time I arrived home from work, too dark to ride the road (it’s just too dicey around here), I did want the bike ready for the weekend. Fresh batteries went into the wireless computer and the fork mounted transmitter. The headlight and rear flasher went back on the bike. Tires were checked, chain cleaned and readied. I prepped a ziplock baggie with spare tube, patch kit, CO2 cartridges and inflator, dollar bills. Gloves, road helmet and head sweat liner, socks, shoes were all set out in their place on the shelf above my bike. A little apprehensive yet excited about my first real road ride in quite a while, I was ready to roll.
Saturday morning emerged with a burst of sunlight through my bedroom windows. I smiled as the brightness peeked through the blinds, rested and ready. My plan was to spend the first part of the morning in my usual way, with a light breakfast and coffee, a few moments of meditation, then the few chores that needed to be done around the house before heading out on the bike by mid morning. Careful not to plop down on the couch lest I get too comfortable, I changed into my cycling clothes — two layers with shorts and a insulated long sleeve mock neck tee as the first layer, thick tights and a long sleeve jersey as the second layer. Wool socks are always my choice for my feet, no matter the weather, so I pulled on my Woolie Boolies then headed out the door. Temperatures were in the low to mid thirties, so I knew that the ride would be a tad brisk, but still comfortable.
There is something wonderfully satisfying about hearing the first click of cleat to pedal, the light resistance straining against my legs for the first pedal strokes followed by a pleasant hum as the wheels spin lightly. There was very little getting used to the feel of the bike underneath me as I have already been out plenty on my mountain bike this year, but the feather light titanium framed beauty that I ride feels like nothing after riding the 10-12 pound heavier mountain bike. There is a pleasure to riding both bikes that I refuse to compare to anything else in life. I will just say that there is a reason that I have been riding for some 25+ years.. and will continue until I am no longer physically able to ride.
My goal for Saturday was simply to spin out the cobwebs, ride for a few hours. That goal was accomplished nicely, with 32 miles on my odometer at the end of the ride, a little better that 16 mph average. The first ride of the year should never feel like punishment to my body, something that was accomplished. There was enough left in me to finish the day, yet enough taken out to let me know that my body would be thanking me the next day. Along the way, I met a woman who was getting ready to ride, a pleasant conversation with an expression of hopes to see each other again out on the road. There was light to almost non-existent traffic, good weather, and plenty of blessing packed into the short time I took getting reacquainted with my titanium two wheeled friend.
Sunday afternoon found me out on the dirt trails again. Our weather dry the last four days, the trails I ride ready. I got 90 minutes in on the mountain bike before I had to quit. I had promised a friend at church that I would fill in for him as an usher for our evening service. The time on the trail was fabulous, especially when I came across my friend, Roy, out on the trail and was able to ride with him for a while.
On the road again, looking forward to more time out. I need to ride. May is around the corner and I have a difficult event to train for!
I am a MAMIL and proud of it. I always have been, always will be. My friend, John, and I went to see this little documentary last night and were delighted at how relevant it was to us. John and I are each over 50, have been MAMIL for quite a while. Frankly, it’s one of the reasons why we are friends, as well as why we have so many MAMIL friends.
If you ride a bike, are male, and are over 40 years old, go see MAMIL. You will howl at much of what is in the movie. Don’t take your wife, a family member, or significant other as the documentary covers such topics controversial to riding bikes, such as the Plus 1 rule, injuries, time constraints, obsessions with cycling gear and trinkets, racing.. and how riding can strain relationships closest to the rider. It also talks about physical and mental health benefits to the over 40 male. The movie starts out light hearted, poking fun at how lycra is not kind to anyone who wears it, especially middle aged men.
We don’t care, do we?
After all, we ride a MFing bike (the video is in MAMIL).
MAMIL is for a very specific viewing audience. I doubt that it will be all that popular, but it is indeed relevant. While most of the guys interviewed in the movie were a bit extreme, I know a lot of guys who make them look mild in their obsession. One thing in the movie that I found sad was the seemingly intentional segue from a segment on gay cyclists in NYC to Christian cyclists in Minneapolis. Thankfully, the Christian cyclists were not portrayed in a negative way.
I found myself thinking back to when I started cycling as an adult. I was 30, newlywed, recovering from a second surgery on my right knee. Stationary bike riding was part of the prescribed therapy, something that I really enjoyed. Because of marital bliss weight gain as well as a lack of cardio exercise due to a knee that swelled every time I ran, I leapt at the chance to train for a century ride with several people at work. A friend loaned me his extra hybrid bike to train for the ride. Quickly, I was putting in 400 miles or more a week on the bike, the fat literally melting off of my body. In a very short period of time (July through November), I went from nearly 240 pounds to under 200 pounds. My knee quit swelling when I ran, my performance in other sports soared, and I felt incredible. A year later, I had my first road bike and was riding events several times a month, including my first of seven RAGBRAI tours.
Also within a year of that first bike ride, I began riding my bicycle to work. When my daughter was born, her mother decided that she needed to be a stay at home mom. Our funds were limited to the meager salary that I made, which had to pay a mortgage and family expenses. Bike commuting became a way to not only get extra time on the bike each day, but it also became a way to save on transportation costs. My coworkers began to identify me by my biking obsession, laughed as the sight of me in lycra became a daily thing. People started coming to me with biking questions, suggestions on what bike to buy, requests to help them fix bikes, etc…. I can remember being proud of stretching $10 worth of gasoline over a 4 week period of time. That was in my old Ford Aerostar van, not exactly a gas stingy machine!
Juggling riding time with family time was a bit of a challenge, but even my ex wife would admit that I did a pretty good job of it. Every weekend involved a BCD (Butt Crack of Dawn) group ride on Saturday, with a warm down early on Sunday. I tried not to let my bike habit become a drag on my family time and mostly succeeded. Only the occasional tour would take me away from my family. Not once did I miss a birthday or holiday celebration or family event. Nor did I let the cost of cycling dip into family funds. I rode used bikes, throwaways from more financially fortunate friends, fixed my bikes and upgraded only when I had planned and saved. I know that some guys can’t say any of that, as well as their wives not being able to say their husband’s cycling habit was the best for their relationship, but I know that cycling was not one of my ex’s complaints. She was proud that her husband biked.
Today, cycling is still the activity that I know will carry me past middle age. Mountain biking is a fairly new thing for me, but something that refreshed my joy of turning the pedals when the road started getting to be less enjoyable. I will always cycle as long as I am able.
I will always be a proud MAMIL.
The saga or drama or whatever one might call it continues. My downstairs neighbor now wants to make “peace” (cough cough). Thus the letter I received in the mail this past Friday afternoon. Such a lovely treatise, carefully written, not so artfully communicated.
I wish I could call it anything but bullshit.
The letter starts off with good intent. The lawyer wants to be a go between, the one who brings peace to the “long simmering dispute” with no intention “to escalate this feud”. How nice. What a saint this man is. My neighbors have hired a mediator. That’s a good sign, right?
I thought that initially, as I scanned the letter. This could be a good thing. Then I actually read the letter. Call it what one wants, but what it is is a not so veiled attempt at manipulation, a list of demands, an attempt to get me to agree in writing so that it can be held over my head. What it really constitutes is just another complaint, an attempt to point a finger at someone who doesn’t behave exactly the way Ms. B wants me to behave. It’s crazy. I am a single, middle aged man who goes to bed early virtually every night except Saturday night, who just wants to live a quiet existence.
That is part of the issue that I have. Last April, what I was really wishing for was to move into my quiet place of refuge, recover from the trauma of the separation and the change in my life. Instead, I inherited a complaining witch who wants to manipulate me in order to make her happy. Without moving out, it’s impossible to comply to the standards she wants met.
Thad must be one happy, content, satisfied man. All I can say is that she had better be one exceptional f***.
This guy says that he met with T & T for “a couple of meetings”. It’s nice to know that they think that a lawyer is necessary. After all, previous occupants of my condo only received letters taped to their door and an occasional visit from the police. I am the first to get a letter from a lawyer.
I like the audacity of paragraph 9. Seriously, you actually think that I am going to let my nutcase neighbor text me to complain in real time? I am a moron, but not an ultra maroon (thank you, Bugs Bunny).
I talked to my brother after the letter was received last Friday, then emailed a copy to him. My brother is an excellent lawyer, so he will have an interesting commentary to supply, I am sure. My guess is that he will say that no response is required, something that I agree with.
Some day, I will live a drama free life. It has to happen, right?
Try as I may, I am no Alice Cooper. I have never tried to be Alice Cooper. I should clarify that. What I am is a nice guy, no doubt about it, and I seem to accomplish that without trying.
Ask my downstairs neighbor, however, and I am a very bad man. After all, I let my friend walk the 10 feet from my living room to the front door this past Saturday night in her heels. For the second time in this young year, my neighbor complained about those 3-4 little steps that seem to disturb my disturbed neighbor. This time, she issued a formal complaint to the property manager of the condominiums that I live in.
Normally, I would know about the complaint because the property manager would call me to get my side of the story. I know the routine by now as it has happened too many times already, more than I have reported here. With all of her formal complaints, shrieked complaints, rants, love letters taped to my front door, visit to the condominium board meeting to complain (I had lived in my condo less than a month then), I know that management procedure is to notify me of the complaint. Except this time, that is not what happened.
Yesterday afternoon, I called our property manager to ask if there is anything that I am required to do to remedy the large and numerous icicles hanging across the back of my condo. Between last Friday and Sunday, we had over 12 inches of snow in our part of Chicagoland. Due to the way my condos are built, which is without ceiling insulation, ice dams form. When we have extreme weather like we just had, ice is a real problem. The property manager thanked me for calling, advised that there was a crew removing the icicles over the garages and courtyard entrances. If I could knock down the icicles that I could reach, it would be greatly appreciated, she told me. There was a pause and I could sense her grinning on the other side of the phone.
You have a second floor condo, correct? (yes) Your friendly neighbor sent us another complaint about you this week. Want to guess what it was about? (heels) Bingo. I didn’t think this one was worth contacting you, but since you called I have to tell you. I just filed it in her already thick file of complaints.
How considerate of her.
No reaction was the best course of action. After all, my mad neighbor has cried wolf so many times that no one takes her complaints seriously. I tried to purge it from my mind, dismiss the complaint for the silly mean thing that it is. I wish that I had the personality that allows that to happen. I don’t (surprise, surprise). However, I vowed to ignore the temptation to react. It was truly a WWJD moment for me, except I really think that Jesus probably would just call my neighbor to him, cure her of her madness, and the world would be right again. I am not God.. not even close.. and more often than I like, I do what is contrary to what God wants from me or for me.
I tried. As I walked past her door on the way to my place, I waved my fingers in her direction. BE HEALED. The fingers probably should have been pointed at my own head.
As I walked through my front door, the little devil on my shoulder whispered just think about what it would feel like to stomp your way through your place just once. Hmmm… that WOULD feel good. I tried it. STOMP STOMP STOMP. I could feel the vibration, knew that it was likely shaking her walls. I could hear her shriek. It felt very, very satisfying to hear that shriek.
As the evening wore on, my single goal became to aggravate my downstairs adversary. I polled Facebook to get ideas, with some excellent suggestions offered by friends with big devils on their shoulders. The thing was, I already know how to aggravate my neighbor. After all, she has given me plenty of detailed information about her dislikes over the past year. All evening, I stomped around my place, flushed the toilet every 15 minutes, ran the sink disposal longer than required when I washed my dishes, ran the dish water scalding hot because it makes the pipes shake. I even devised a way to make the sound of heels on my wood parquet dining room floor — two small fireplace logs struck against the floor. That one evolved into a fireplace log tap dance after a time or two. The thing is, I knew where the evening was headed. Once she had the right cause, she would call the police. She had done it to the previous owner of my condo.
It happened. At 1:30 this morning, I made a potty trip, flushed, turned the shower on hot and let it run, did a little log dance in the dining room.. and paused with an evil sneer as the shrieks rose delightfully from below. I turned off the shower, returned to bed, waited to hear the police car pull up out front.
2 AM brought a light knock on my front door. I already knew that it was officer friendly. I dressed, answered the door, invited the two officers in. They asked if I was Steve, asked if I live alone, then explained why they were there. The officer who did most of the talking was stern, advised me that my actions were childish. I nodded in agreement.. he was very correct and I knew it when the evening began that I was being childish… and I was also fed up. This laid back, nice guy was fed up and tired of being Mister Nice Guy.
If you don’t hear from me for a few days, please bail me out!
It’s hard to believe it, but I have lived on my own for nearly a year now. Life has changed in a good way, has changed me.
Look at my condo, for instance. Perhaps the change to Felix Unger tendencies started a while ago, it just wasn’t noticeable whilst living with a large teenage male. Now that I am living in a smaller space and with only myself to speak for, that space is in fine order. My bed is made each morning, the first thing I do before even traipsing to the bathroom for tinkle time.
Yes, I flush the toilet, much to the chagrin of my downstairs neighbor, T the Nitpicker.
Strange addictions have reared their ugly head. One of my first purchases upon moving in was a nice carpet shampoo machine. My berber is so spectacularly spotless that one can roll around naked without worry.
I often do. That’s another benefit of living alone. I should probably be more careful about closing the drapes on the large sliding glass door in my living room. Or should I?
My bathroom sink and fixtures receive a quick wipe down every time they are used in the morning. The shower reaks of the scent of daily shower cleaner, the gleam of the faucet handles and spout a glory to behold. Kitchen dishes are washed after they are used, the stainless sink also wiped down with a rag and towel after each use. Bare floors are swept and mopped several times a week.
I am going to make someone a fabulous house husband some day.
Some day I might even shine my bike with floor polish….
And here we see two very happy, possibly giddy, definitely satisfied Harry Potter nerds. That is Hogwarts in the background, the detail so incredible, as was all of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando. To say that the place is magical is redundant, I suppose, since the place is all about magic, but it really is just that. Alyssa and I went there hoping that the place would live up to the hype. We were not disappointed.
Last Saturday morning we practically floated through the gates at Universal, ready to start the journey that we had anticipated for months. I promised my little girl that I would treat her with a trip there as her college graduation present, praying with a bit of trepidation that I would be able to live up to the promise. Things, literally THINGS, tried to stop me from keeping my promise — car repairs, broken teeth, car accidents. None stopped us. My car decided to break down last Thursday night, when I was packed and ready to drive the 3 hours to pick Alyssa up at college for our flight out of Indianapolis. I had to scramble for a rental car, pray that I would trust God to take care of things, and forget about what that repair would cost while I was with my daughter (I succeeded). On the way to pick up her last Friday, I witnessed a head on collision, a car turned into the path of an oncoming car. That oncoming car crashed through the other car, spun around it and skidded to a backwards stop about ten feet from the rented car that I was driving.
An hour later, after waiting for the accident to be cleared, I met my daughter. We made it with time to spare for our flight.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando, is split into two separate parts of the park. One section is Diagon Alley, with Kings Crossing station next to it, where visitors can take the Hogwarts Express train to Hogsmeade. The entrance to Diagon Alley is hidden, so much that we walked past it and had to ask a park attendant how to find it. In front of the entrance is the Knight bus, where we had stopped so Alyssa could take a picture with its conductor (Stan Shunpike).
Once we found the entrance, we were overtaken with awe. We felt like we had just walked into the book, the shops as well as Gringotts bank, complete with fire breathing dragon on top, so finely done that we were delighted. Immediately necessary was a trip to Ollivander’s wand shop, where we witnessed the wand selection ceremony, then entered the shop to select a wand for Alyssa.
She wanted a wand with the hope to use it to direct her future high school band while they play the Harry Potter theme.
Alyssa chose Luna Lovegood’s wand, a fine choice. Leaving the shop with wand in hand, we looked for the symbols placed around Diagon Alley that marked where the wand could be used to create magic.
We met plenty of characters. Alyssa’s favorite is Hagrid, so she was ecstatic that our timing was perfect for her to meet him and pose in the sidecar of his motorcycle.
We also met Severus Snape. I have say that the guy was almost a dead ringer for Alan Rickman. It’s one of my favorite pictures from the two days we were there.
Yes, my ginger daughter wore a tee shirt that said “MUST BE A WEASLEY”. Hahahahaha.
We had butter beer.. twice. It was a necessity. Sweet. Worth the money, as was the whole experience. The Gringotts ride, a 4D reality ride, was fantastic. Since I bought the Universal Express Unlimited pass, we were able to ride anything as much as we wanted. Rarely did we wait more than 5 minutes to ride.
Most of the rides at Universal are 4D virtual rides, so if you want to ride roller coasters, you might be disappointed. There are three real coasters there, the scariest is a ride called Rock It, the first climb literally straight up. Our favorite coaster was the Hulk coaster, which shoots you over the first climb with a steam launcher. There are better coasters at Cedar Point and Six Flags, but none of those parks beats the experience of Universal Studios. The attention to detail is second to none, bringing to life movies like Jurassic Park, the Mummy, Shrek, Despicable Me, as well as TV shows such as the Simpsons and Jimmy Fallon. There is a part of the park dedicated to Marvel comics and the funnies, also Doctor Suess. We rode the Cat in the Hat ride, a kiddie ride, and were delighted.
We were treated to a selfie opportunity with Hashtag the Panda. YES!
We also were surprised by the rental car that we were assigned — a red Dodge Charger R/T hemi. Cool. I was in heaven. When we went to the parking spot to pick up the car, we didn’t know what car we were getting. Neither of us believed it.
Exhausted but satisfied, we decided to close out our visit to Universal by having dinner at the Orlando City Walk. Careful to stick to my budget, I knew we had enough to splurge on dinner. Alyssa chose the restaurant, a cool looking place called Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. It was a good choice, with excellent food and desserts. At one point, Alyssa exclaimed “Dad, this is the best restaurant that I have ever been to!”. It was an experience, my heart glad that she was having a good time. This trip was more than I could afford, but it was not one that I could afford to miss. It was worth every penny, my time with my girl something I will treasure for the rest of my life. I am thankful and blessed.
Monday, we had breakfast with a woman that Alyssa had befriended and ministered to during her spring break trips to Daytona the past two years. Denise gushed about how wonderful my daughter is, told me that they keep in touch weekly. I can’t tell you how proud I am of my daughter.
I arrived home at 3 AM early Monday morning, tired but happy. Three hours later I would be out of bed and on my way to work, trying to figure out how to pay the $1100 car repair bill and finding transportation while the car is being fixed (as of this writing, it’s not ready yet). As my eyes closed, I thanked God for the gift that I experienced the last four days, a blessing that I am sure will be remembered as long as I live.
Last Spring, the men’s breakfast group that I attend every Friday studied and discussed the bible book of Job. Job was a blessed man, rich with land and cattle and servants and family, a man blameless and righteous in the eyes of God, so much so that Satan challenged God. The challenge was that God remove the protection he had around Job, let Satan have his way, and surely Job would curse God. Job suffered terribly, lost all he had, endured friends who said that he was being punished for his sin, yet through it all did not curse God. In the end, God restored all that Job had lost, rewarded him for his righteousness.
I wish I had the patience of Job. For that matter, I wish that I could be blameless like Job. When it comes to righteousness, I am not worthy to even scrape one of his boils.
Here comes my whine. I have a tendency to come here to do that.
Tomorrow, I am driving 4 hours to meet my daughter, get a lift to Indianapolis to fly to Orlando. I wrote about it a few days ago. This is going to be a fantastic trip, one like I have never been able to experience.
This afternoon, two blocks away from home, the low coolant warning light came on in my car. It wasn’t overheating, so I assumed it was just low coolant. I let the engine cool, added coolant, took the car out for a short drive. A mile from my house, the coolant warning light came back on. I pulled in my garage, checked again. Coolant was low, so I added more. This time I let the car run in the garage, checked for leaking hoses, couldn’t find a leak.. that is until I looked under the car to see coolant pouring from the back of the engine.
Crap, crap, crap. What to do? I fumed for a few minutes, asked God why things like this always seem to happen to me (tried not to curse God.. even Job asked God why bad things were happening to him). I called the rental car company that I normally deal with, got a great deal on a rental car. While I am not quite making lemonade, I am avoiding the persimmons. I will take my car to my mechanic in the morning, get in the rental car, and save the worries until next Tuesday.
The car broke down in my garage, for goodness sakes. This could be worse. I could have been stranded on the tollway on the south side of Chicago tomorrow (that’s bad shoo shoo), instead, and trying to figure out how to make the flight to Orlando. Really, I should be counting my blessings. The car was going to break down any way and it broke down in a convenient place.
I am packed, ready to go. I finally have enough money to relax on a vacation, something I don’t ever think has happened before on any vacation that I have taken. Four days with my wonderful daughter. What else can I ask for? Perfection? Over rated.
Butter beer, here we come!
Introducing Student Athletes To The Gospel.
a redhead's journey
Marketing major. Outdoor sports lover. San Diego living.
Adventures of an Southern Bunny everything from dating, sex, life and shake your head moments.
Creative Writing, Book Reviews, Adult Humor Stories
A lady's foray into mountain biking
A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.
I need the funny because they're teenagers now
A journey into Cade's world
A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.
Kids - I`m like the old woman who lived in a shoe - Crumbs, my house is full of them - Crackers, Im slowly going
the only certainty is change
shit storms, shame, and stories that make you cringe
Mother, Nehiyaw, Metis, & Itisahwâkan - career communicator. This is my collection of opinions, stories, and the occasional rise to, or fall from, challenge. In other words, it's my party, I can fun if I want to. .................................................................. Artwork by aaronpaquette.net
Life in a bubble: a dose of New York humor with an Italian twist!
Stay Clean Get Fit
What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger
Global issues, travel, photography & fashion. Drifting across the globe; the world is my oyster, my oyster through a lens.
I am a fountain of insight. Drink from me.